Showing posts from January 3, 2015

Enbridge North Dakota pipeline resumes operations after fire

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["What'd you do over the holidays?" "Oh, the usual. Opened presents, sat around watching oily black smoke pour into the sky as a bunch of our storage tanks randomly burned to the ground. You?" *RON]

Sharon Cho and Robert Tuttle, Bloomberg News / Globe & Mail, 2 January 2015

Enbridge Inc., a pipeline operator that runs several lines across the U.S. and Canada, restarted its North Dakota system after a fire at a truck-loading facility, according to a company spokesman.

The blaze began yesterday at the facility that was leased to its unit, Tidal Energy Marketing, Michael Barnes, a spokesman for Calgary-based Enbridge, said by phone. Eight out of 12 crude storage tanks, with a capacity of 400 barrels each, caught fire at the site, according to Karolin Rockvoy, a manager at the Emergency Management Services for McKenzie County, North Dakota.

North Dakota is home to the Bakken shale formation that contributes more than 1 mi…

Paul Krugman: How Soaring Inequality May Lead the World Down the Path of Fascism

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[Krugman has it half right. There is a decided risk of populist-driven fascism, but there is an equal and opposite force driving society toward greater authoritarianism. This rises from the growing awareness on the part of the 0.1% of how much they now have to lose. We see this in the rise of the "deep state" - the military-industrial-surveillance complex - and things like the militarization of civilian police forces and paramilitary gated communities. *RON*]
By Janet Allon / AlterNet, 2 January 2015

We live in scary times, Paul Krugman writes in his Friday New York Times column. So scary that they put the esteemed economist in mind of 1930s Europe.

The rising inequality problem, well established by Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century,” has concentrated so much wealth in the hands of so few, while millions of others live in what Krugman poetically calls the "Valley of the despond."

The only other group that is doing w…

It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.

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[By comparison, Americans somehow manage to make Harper's corporatocratic anti-science, anti-evidence campaign (largely swept under the rug by a collusive mainstream media and ignored like crazy by an indifferent electorate) look polite and sensible instead of the anti-democratic attack that it actually is. *RON*]
By Peter Dykstra, Environmental Health News, 3 January 2015

The 114th Congress convenes this week. The last time a Congressional anti-science caucus was this strong may have been during the Scopes Monkey Trial ninety years ago. But that’s not the worst part of it: The folks who want to gut government research and deny climate change are virtually guaranteed perpetual re-election and jobs for life.

Let’s get straight to the moral of this story: Entrenched anti-science isn’t going away. Not soon, maybe not in our lifetimes. Every one of the most ardent congressional climate deniers who chose to run won re-election, mostly by runaway m…

European Union Imposes a Tax on Digital Transactions Equal to 0.006 Percent of GDP

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[Such bravery! Let it never be said that the EU wouldn't stand up to the financial sector! (Heavy sarcasm alert.) Worse, this is a general tax on e-transactions, so most of it may come in the form of a regressive consumption tax on things like e-books and smartphone apps. *RON*]

02 January 2015, Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The NYT reported that the European Union (EU) will start collecting a tax on digital transactions in 2015 that is expected to raise $1 billion this year. For those who are not very familiar with the size of the EU economy, it is projected to be close to $19 trillion in 2015, which means that the revenue from this tax will be a bit less than 0.006 percent of GDP.

Are some diets “mass murder”?

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[While we all contemplate our New Year's resolve, a good piece from the British Medical Journal on diet, (pseudo-)science and the politics, economics and corporatocracy involved in what we eat. *RON*]
Richard Smith, BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 15 December 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g7654

From low fat to Atkins and beyond, diets that are based on poor nutrition science are a type of global, uncontrolled experiment that may lead to bad outcomes, concludes Richard Smith

Jean Mayer, one of the “greats” of nutrition science, said in 1965, in the colourful language that has characterised arguments over diet, that prescribing a diet restricted in carbohydrates to the public was “the equivalent of mass murder.”1 Having ploughed my way through five books on diet and some of the key studies to write this article, I’m left with the impression that the same accusation of “mass murder” could be directed at many pl…

Something That Changed My Perspective: Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation

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[Polanyi's The Great Transformation is one of the best books I've ever read - highly recommended. *RON*]
By Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, January 2, 2015

The first Christmas-New Years period for this site, in 2007, we featured a series “Something That Changed My Perspective,” which presented some things that affected how I viewed the world. The offerings included John Kay on obliquity and Michael Prowse on how income inequality was bad for the health even of the wealthy.

Perhaps the clearest and most important illustration was the the must-see four-part Adam Curtis BBC series “The Century of the Self.” If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to make it a priority for this weekend. Even though you may think you know about propaganda, this program is likely to be an eye-opener. As Curtis sais:

This series is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy.” It focuses on how Si…

Mulcair Promises Proportional Representation If NDP Wins Next Election

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[Most of the world's major democracies have one form or another of proportional representation (Canada and the US are 'stand alone' nations in so many respects), so at some level it's about time Canada joined the club. As we've seen, though, the hard part is actually getting there, since realpolitik considerations always get in the way of any party that forms the government. *RON*]
By Michael Bolen, Huffington Post, 2 January 2015

If the NDP forms Canada's next government, Thomas Mulcair says he'll put an end to majority governments elected by a minority of the population.

In an op-ed published in Common Ground magazine this week, Mulcair promises that if the NDP has its way the next election will be the last in Canada's history conducted with a first-past-the-post system.

"In the last election, Conservatives formed a majority government with only 39% of the vote," Mulcair writes. "In our current first-…

What would a coalition government mean for progressive politics in Canada?

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[I doubt these three will form a workable coalition - aside from marked policy differences there are two too many egos involved. But Patterson is right in saying that, should this happen, it would be up to civil society to keep pressure on the coalition to stop its from being hijacked by pure realpolitik. *RON*]
By Brent Patterson,, 2 January 2015

While the federal election is still ten months away, there is already speculation that a likely outcome of the vote on October 19, 2015 is a Conservative minority government that could be displaced by a Liberal-NDP coalition government. Both NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Green Party leader Elizabeth May appear to be open to forming a coalition government with the Liberals to unseat a Conservative minority government, but Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is ruling it out - for now.

Mulcair says, "We’ll have to wait and see. We’re going to be gunning for a majority NDP government." But he …

Joseph Stiglitz: Thomas Piketty gets income inequality wrong

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[The famed economist reveals the real reason the rich are getting richer -- and what it means for the rest of us. Despite what he says, his argument bears a family resemblance to Piketty's work (how different is urban land accumulation from wealth accumulation really?), though his emphasis on the relationship of quantitative easing to wealth inequality is distinct. *RON*]

Lynn Stuart Parramore, AlterNet /, 2 January 2015

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz has been writing about America’s economically divided society since the 1960s. His recent book,The Price of Inequality, argues that this division is holding the country back, a topic he has also explored in recent research supported by the Institute for New Economic Thinking and others. On December 4, Stiglitz chaired the eighth INET Seminar Series at Columbia University, in which he presented a paper, “New Theoretical Perspectives on the D…